Having experienced an actual plague of locusts in Israel, which he described in chapter one, Joel understood that the Lord was causing him to see it as a vision of the End Times leading up to the Day of the Lord. He began recording His description of this vision in chapter 2 bringing it to its conclusion in chapter 3, which is the topic of this study.
“In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. They cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes; they sold girls for wine that they might drink.” (Joel 3:1-3)
This is an overview statement that speaks of crimes that have been committed against the Jews during the Times of the Gentiles and culminates in the judgments during the Great Tribulation and following the 2nd Coming. In Jeremiah 30:11 the Lord promised to destroy all the nations into which Israel had been scattered in the Diaspora and here He added a penalty for dividing up His land among them, another crime for which the Gentile nations bear responsibility. The destruction of their nations is part of the punishment. The survivors’ consignment to the place prepared for the devil and his angels after the Lord’s return completes it. How do we know this? The Hebrew word for nations here is Goy which commonly refers to non-Jewish people. Jehoshaphat means Jehovah judges and its location is that part of the Kidron Valley lying between the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives. The time of judgment is right after the 2nd Coming when the Lord judges the nations. (Matt. 25:31-46).
“Now what have you against me, O Tyre and Sidon and all you regions of Philistia? Are you repaying me for something I have done? If you are paying me back, I will swiftly and speedily return on your own heads what you have done. For you took my silver and my gold and carried off my finest treasures to your temples. You sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, that you might send them far from their homeland.
“See, I am going to rouse them out of the places to which you sold them, and I will return on your own heads what you have done. I will sell your sons and daughters to the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, a nation far away.” The LORD has spoken. (Joel 3:4-8)
It’s noteworthy that the first names mentioned are the ones representing Hizbollah (Tyre and Sidon are cities in Lebanon) and Hamas (Gaza was a major Philistine city). In the next verses we’ll see that these two get theirs before the nations are even called to prepare for war. Is this a hint that the destruction of Israel’s antagonistic next door neighbors could precede the better known end time judgments? If so it’s further evidence that the Battle of Psalm 83 will take place before Ezekiel 38-39.
And what’s this reference to the Greeks? They didn’t show up until 400 years after Joel wrote these words. A look at the original language here brings one of those “aha” moments. The Hebrew word translated Greek literally means miry clay. It’s a form of the same word used in Daniel 2:41 to describe one of the materials of which the feet of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue was composed. The statue represented Gentile Dominion, four kingdoms that would rule the world from Daniel’s time to the 2nd Coming.
The Biblical Roman Empire was responsible for dispersing the Jews through out the world. It was represented in the statue by two legs of iron. The feet are its end times version, which we call the revived Roman Empire. At the End of the Age a Rock cut without hands (the Messiah) will smash all that the statue represents so thoroughly they will become like chaff in the summer wind, never to be seen again. (Daniel 2:44-45) Given the context of Joel’s message, I think it’s appropriate to see the word Greek as representative of the End Times version of Gentile dominion. As we can already see, there’s a concerted effort underway again to divide the Promised Land and there’s even even talk of sending them far away from their homeland.
The Sabeans occupied the southern part of the Arabian peninsula in what’s called Yemen today. The actual timing of the fulfillment of this prophecy has not been made known to us. Perhaps the current war between Yemen and Saudi Arabia will offer some clues. Iran and the US are already taking (opposite) sides, and Jordanian special forces are involved in the fighting.
Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for war! Rouse the warriors! Let all the fighting men draw near and attack. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say, “I am strong!” Come quickly, all you nations from every side, and assemble there. Bring down your warriors, O LORD! “Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side.” (Joel 3:9-12)
Turning plowshares into swords and pruning hooks into spears is the exact opposite of Isaiah 2:4 where swords are turned into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks at the outset of the Lord’s reign of peace. This means the worst fighting leading up to the End of the Age is still ahead of us in Joel’s narrative. Remember, the Valley of Jehoshaphat is that part of the Kidron Valley between the Temple Mount and the Mt. Of Olives. It’s just East of Jerusalem, so the nations must be positioning themselves to battle for control of Jerusalem, and the entire planet.
Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow— so great is their wickedness!” (Joel 3:13)
This thought was carried directly into Revelation 14:14-20 where it’s called the Harvest of the Earth. Outside Jerusalem, the blood flowed like a stream that rose as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 175 miles, the distance from Har Megiddo, staging area for Armageddon, to Petra, where Israel’s believing remnant will be sheltered.
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The LORD will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble. But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel. (Joel 3:14-16)
More language from the End of the Age. This time from Matt. 24:29 (the sun and moon darkened) and Zechariah 14: 2-3. which says;
I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle.
The obvious point of calling It “The Valley of Decision” is that by showing up for this battle, the nations will have decided to take up arms against the almighty in fulfillment of Psalm 2:1-3. But I believe there’s a sense in which the phrase “valley of decision” could also refer to Matt. 24:22 where the Lord said in effect that if He didn’t decide to put an end to the destruction of those days, not a single soul would survive the Great Tribulation. But for the sake of the elect He will put an end to it. John explained how this will happen in Rev. 19.
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.”
Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. (Rev. 19:11-21)
That should do it.
Blessings for God’s People
“Then you will know that I, the LORD your God, dwell in Zion, my holy hill. Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her.
“In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the LORD’s house and will water the valley of acacias. (Joel 3:17-19)
In our study on the End Times According To Isaiah we saw how beautiful the Land will become after the Lord returns. Joel offered only the briefest summary of this miraculous re-creation.
But Egypt will be desolate, Edom a desert waste, because of violence done to the people of Judah, in whose land they shed innocent blood.
Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.” The LORD dwells in Zion(Joel 3:19-21)
After His beating, when Jesus stood bloody but unbowed before Pilate, the people responded to Pilate’s offer to set Him free. “Crucify Him,” they shouted. Pilate took water and symbolically washed his hands of the matter.
“I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility”.
All the people answered, “Let His blood be on us and our children!” (Matt. 27:22-25)
And so it’s been. Who knows how many Jews have died because of the blood guilt they called down upon themselves that day.
But one day soon all that will be behind them. Toward the end of the Great Tribulation, they’ll officially petition His return, as prophesied in Hosea 6:1-2. Zechariah 12:10 says that in response God will pour out on them the Spirit of grace and supplication, and they’ll look upon Him, the one they have pierced, in a long overdue recognition of their Messiah. Some say their public confession, written by Isaiah so long ago, will follow.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:2-6)
Then, finally, they’ll mourn for Him, like one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a first born son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, and all through the land, the people will mourn. (Zech 12:11-14) Their blood guilt, which God has not pardoned, He will pardon, and the Lord will once again dwell in Zion (Ezekiel 43:6-7) Hallelujah!